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Undefeated Chiefs welcome back key All Blacks for Crusaders match

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The undefeated Chiefs have been the form team of Super Rugby Pacific this season, but they face another tough test against title holders the Crusaders on Saturday.

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Following their opening round 31-10 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch, the ladder-leading Chiefs haven’t looked back.

Led by Damian McKenzie and Shaun Stevenson, the Chiefs have overcome each and every test that has come their way – but it doesn’t get much tougher than the Crusaders.

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McKenzie and Stevenson have both returned to their usual positions ahead of the round 10 clash, as the Chiefs look to record a regular season double over the title holders.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan has made nine changes to the run-on side, and has included a staggering eight All Blacks in the matchday 23.

Aidan Ros and George Dyer return to the starting side this week, with the props set to pack down alongside All Black Samisoni Taukei’aho in the front row.

Tupou Vaa’i returns to the second row, while All Blacks Sam Cane and Luke Jacobson are also set to play after missing the round nine clash with the Fijian Drua.

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As for the backline, Test star Brad Weber is back at halfback this week, while Cortez Ratima has been relegated back to the bench.

Damian McKenzie shifts from fullback to flyhalf, while Shaun Stevenson will don the No. 15 jersey after impressing on the right wing last weekend.

Rameka Poihipi gets the nod at second five and will partner rising star Daniel Rona in the midfield.

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Coach Clayton McMillan expects Saturday night’s clash to be “a banger” between two top teams.

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“They embarrassed us last year with their urgency and accuracy after we had beaten them in Christchurch a few weeks earlier, so we know what’s coming out way,” McMillan said in a statement.

“There are areas that feed their game, particularly in big matches, and our challenge is to starve them of those opportunities whilst earning the right to play the expansive game we want to play.

“It should be a banger and we are hoping a massive crowd come along to support the lads.”

Chiefs team to take on Crusaders

  1. Aidan Ross
  2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  3. George Dyer
  4. Brodie Retallick
  5. Tupou Vaa’i
  6. Samipeni Finau
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Luke Jacobson
  9. Brad Weber
  10. Damian McKenzie
  11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
  12. Rameka Poihipi
  13. Daniel Rona
  14. Emoni Narawa
  15. Shaun Stevenson

Replacements:

  1. Tyrone Thompson
  2. Ollie Norris
  3. John Ryan
  4. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
  5. Pita Gus Sowakula
  6. Cortez Ratima
  7. Bryn Gatland
  8. Lalomilo Lalomilo
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Shaylen 14 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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